The Chicano (or Latino or Hispanic) Renaissance taking place in the Rio Grande Valley is no illusion. The concept is not of my authorship. I have heard several prominent, important people involved in the arts and literary circles refer to what is happening here as the "Chicano Renaissance". Don't let the word "Chicano" turn you off. As part of the Coalition of New Chicano Artists (CONCA) my colleagues and I attempt to broaden the parameters of this term to include any and all who come from a similar background of indigenous American ancestry and European influence.
What makes up the Chicano Renaissance is a very palpable surge of creativity and venues for artistic expression throughout the Rio Grande Valley. There are people like Edward Vidaurre, who organizes the Pasta, Poetry and Vino event, where he invites a featured poet/writer along with other poets to read and share their works. CONCA is a group that experiments and innovates with events like the Poetry Boxing Championship, the Sin Frontera Independent Book Fest, and Frontera Talks, among other projects. Raquel Lopez holds her literary club event called Enero Rojo Lunar in which she presents dance troupes, poets, short story writers, philosophers, singers and painters. It is a true production, which she accomplishes through the sheer power of her grace and broad smile.
Pedro Garcia with the Pharr Community Theatre is a powerful influence in the artistic life of the Valley. With decades of experience on the stage and screen as an actor and director he brings that essential aspect of the arts to the community which is only achieved through theater and drama. Lucia Macias is also an important influence in theatre working through the Pharr Community Theater on plays in Spanish like Frontera Sin Fin, an achievement in its own rite. Raquel Hinojosa, owner of Hinovations Art Studio in McAllen, Texas is not only a great art creator but also patron, often opening the doors of her business to stage events like the Fist In The Air, Ultimate Poetry Boxing Championship, poetry and art events in observation of Frida Kahlo, individual artist and group exhibits.
Among others in the arts scene are institutions, as well, such as the Dustin Michael Sekula Memorial Library in Edinburg, Texas which holds a poetry reading event every month, often accompanied by some pan dulce and coffee, or tamales and agua de jamaica. The University of Texas Pan American, Universtiy of Texas in Brownsville, the Pharr library, San Juan Library, Carnahan Elementary in Pharr, Texas, and other entities host a variety of events such as plays, poetry readings, workshops for artists and writers, among other things.
The list of people and institutions provided here is not meant to represent those who are most important or prominent. It simply represents the few that come to mind at the moment, having been personally involved as participant, organizer, or audience member in many productions by those on this list and others. The Chicano Renaissance taking shape in the Rio Grande Valley has many facets, and it involves many people (Chicano/Latino/Hispanic and other) as well as organizations and institutions.
The course of this movement is still not clearly defined. The outcome has not been reached. Perhaps this is a good thing. Sometimes, I have heard, it is the journey and not the end that provides the most value. This is where we learn. This is where we grow. It is in the making or creating of an identity where we gain a sense of our true selves. Perhaps this will be our vehicle to finally overcome our persistent problem as a "Chicano," "Hispanic," "Latino" community: that of feeling like we are undefined. Like we are neither from here nor there. Yet also feeling like we are from both places at the same time. Then again, perhaps it should never be the aim to attempt to overcome these "problems" because maybe it is these things that make us unique, that inspire us to achieve, and that drive with great creative force the very evident Chicano, Latino, Hispanic border-life artistic and literary renaissance.
Gabriel H. Sanchez
Gabriel H. Sanchez is an author, poet, actor, editor, and publisher from the Rio Grande Valley.
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